The Cunning Romans
Threw the Dice
For the Lord’s Tunic.
They left us women,
Latin, Roman; laws and roads
The Roman soldiers.
Saeta Cuartelera de Puente Genil
Inside its Library and Documentation Centre, the Museo Reina Sofía presents A Throw of the Dice… a three-way conversation in two parts between dancer Israel Galván, artist Pedro G. Romero and graphic designer Filiep Tacq.
A Throw of the Dice… is a response to an invitation by Filiep Tacq and Pedro G. Romero to Israel Galván to “translate into dance” the famous poem by Stéphane Mallarmé (1842–1898) Un coup de dés jamais n’abolira le hasard (A Throw of the Dice will Never Abolish Chance), published in book form by Gallimard in 1914 following the poet’s death. In the book Mallarmé changed the typographical conventions set by the page margins, moving beyond them to imagine new graphic and rhythmic arrangements in an attempt to summon poetry outside textual space. In 1969, Marcel Broodthaers (1924–1976), to a similar end, reinterpreted the poem, translating the words into black blocks of differing thickness on the white of the paper; thus the written word becomes pure image and rhythm. This dialogue between the original impact of the poem and the subsequent intervention of the Belgian artist is the premise for the piece presented here.
The conversation gets under way with Filiep Tacq, who draws attention to how Marcel Broodthaers produced his artist’s books by considering their inside, their formal construction and their articulation when held. Pedro G. Romero establishes a link between the flow beyond the page exercised by Mallarmé and Broodthaers’ subsequent intervention in blotting out the words of the French poet with black marks to generate a series of almost musical rhythms which enter into dialogue with flamenco dance. This exchange is accompanied by Galván’s dance in a rhythmic and corporeal translation, transcending the literal support of the page — in this case the flamenco stage — to expand it inside a library space of study, reading and consultation. The Museo’s Library thus becomes the place where the pages of Mallarmé and Broodthaers come into contact through Galván’s dance.
A Throw of the Dice… gestated in 2017 inside the framework of the project The Book to Come, set in motion by the office of art and knowledge Bulegoa z/b (Bilbao) in 2015, in the context of the performativity of the artist’s book and starting out from Marcel Broodthaers’ five books. To date, this piece has been performed at the Playground Festival in Leuven (Belgium) and the Escenas do Cambio en Cidade da Cultura Festival in Santiago de Compostela (Spain).
Israel Galván (Seville, 1973) is a Spanish flamenco dancer and choreographer. In 2005 he won the National Award for Dance, in the Creation category, from Spain’s Ministry of Culture, “because of his capacity to generate, in an art form such as flamenco, a new creation but without forgetting its true roots, which have underpinned it to the present day and which constitute it as a universal genre”.
Filiep Tacq (Kortrijk, 1959) has worked as an independent graphic designer since 1984, specialising in books, art catalogues, and artists’ books. In 2015, with Bulegoa z/b, Filiep Tacq started the project The Book to Come (2015–2017), with its departure point the study of Marcel Broodthaers’ five books.
Pedro G. Romero (Aracena, 1964) has been an artist since 1985. His work centres on two major projects: Máquina P.H., from which he promotes the Independent Platform of Modern and Contemporary Flamenco Studies, and Archivo F. X., the basis of an array of projects he has developed. He is the artistic director of dancer Israel Galván and works with different artists, from Rocío Márquez and Niño de Elche to Inés Bacán and Tomás de Perrate, to name but a few.